AMHERST — The Barker field hockey team is returning to the state semifinals and the Raiders are acting like they’ve been there before.
“We expected to go to states, so when we walked out here, we were ready for this game,” senior captain Katrina Clare said following Barker’s 6-1 victory against East Rochester in the regional round of the NYSPHAA Class C championship tournament Saturday at Williamsville North.
Barker advanced this far last year with 4-3 overtime win against the same Section V opponent before its state title run ended with a semifinal loss.
“Last year, we got there maybe a little earlier than we expected,” coach Jeff Costello said. “It’s always been a goal to get to this point. But this year it was an expectation. And it was great because we got a lot of different contributions from a lot of different people.”
Ciara Gregoire had two goals, Serena Harris, Natalie Bruning, Rachel Hurtgam and Madison Gancasz also scored and Katrina Clare tallied four assists for the Raiders (17-3).
“We won 6-1 against a team that has always been tough for us, so that’s huge,” Clare said. “Coming out here and slamming it in is a great feeling.”
“It’s really awesome because we have a lot of seniors on the team that have been playing together since fourth grade through our youth clinic in Barker,” Gregoire said. “We talked to our team as captains and said we are seniors and we want to end our last year with a bang.”
Barker will head back to Williamsville North next Saturday to face either Taconic Hills (Section IX) or Bronxville (Section I) for a spot in the state championship game.
“Our seniors knew that this was coming to Will North a few years ago and we targeted this as a year when we might be play for a state title in a backyard, so to speak,” Costello said. “The important thing for this group is that they’ve been there before. I don’t think they are going to be as awestruck by the whole thing as maybe a year ago.”
“We are more confident this year,” Gregoire said. “And we have a much better chance. So we’re excited for it.”